Week 8 observations

What a week 8 it was for the household.  The Steelers get past New England and have now created some debate as to who is the top team in the AFC and the Eagles smoke the Cowboys and are hopefully rounding into shape for a run to the playoffs.

Eagles:  Any win against division rival Dallas is a big one – doing it in convincing 34-7 fashion made it that much more enjoyable.   This was as close to a perfect game as they could play – no turnovers, well more than 200 yards rushing, more than 250 yards passing, a significant time of possession difference.  I’m going to keep saying what I’ve been saying since week one – the Eagles offensive line is one of the top run blocking lines in the NFL, and in the past two weeks, their play calling has adjusted the play mix to this reality.   Give McCoy credit for his running, but he had massive holes to run through all night.   Peters on the left side was a monster, Herremans on the right was tremendous in the traps and draws to his side.  Celek, not well known as a run blocking TE, sealed the edges on runs all night.    Defensively, I didn’t see one blitz all game.  The coverage was outstanding and the front four got enough pressure on Romo to create a couple of sacks and hurry a number of his throws.   This defence looks like it’s starting to gel.    A completely dominant performance from top to bottom – it was a great game to watch! 

Steelers:  They managed to keep the Patriots off the field and the ball out of Brady’s hands with 5 drives of more than 10 plays.  It looked like the Steelers stole the Pats playbook and used it against them with 50 passes in the game, many of the short/intermediate variety to keep the chains moving.   The Steelers secondary was outstanding in coverage all night.   Underneath routes were well covered, and there was never anyone running free down the field for Brady to find.    The Steelers are an under-appreciated passing team.   Roethlisberger doesn’t look smooth, but he’s highly effective and needs to be considered among the top QBs in the league.

A few other things I saw in what was otherwise a Sunday of underwhelming match-ups on paper:

  • Patriots – If anyone other than Belichick put together this defence, there would be mass mockery of that individual.  The Pats defence has let the team down the past few seasons and is poised to do so again.   Some of Belichick’s shine as a personnel genius is wearing off.   You have to be able to win games in multiple ways and right now it doesn’t look like the Pats defence can win a game or cover up for a sub par offensive day.  On the other side of the ball, with no deep threat (wasn’t that supposed to be Ochocinco and why hasn’t he been cut yet?), teams with reasonable corners are going to play press coverage, take away space underneath and dare the Pats to beat them throwing deep.  Not all teams have the personnel to do this, but if the playoffs go through the Jets, Steelers, or Bengals, the Pats are going to struggle unless they find a deep threat to open up the field.
  • I continue to think Baltimore is overrated.  Yes they had a wonderful comeback from 24 down to win, but it should never have been that close against Arizona.  I’m not sure they can string together the 3-4 playoff wins in a row to be Super Bowl champs this year.
  • Washington is a mess.  Much of it has to do with an OL that has been decimated by injuries.   It’s good to see Shanahan lose – he’s got to be one of the most overrated NFL coaches. 
  • Detroit really rubbed it into Denver in their 45-10 beat-down.  Tebow looks completely lost, and to add insult to injury, was mocked at every turn by the Lions defenders.  
  • Good to see St Louis get their first win of the year.  Early in the 2nd quarter with the game close, they went for it on 4th and 2 from around mid-field.  After they were successful, you could see the emotion build.  Later, 4th and 2 from inside the Saints 40, they went for it and were successful again.  I loved the calls as they have nothing to lose and I think it helped spur them on to a victory no one saw coming.
  • The Chargers must frustrate their fans like the Eagles to do theirs.   Fighting from behind all game, a fumbled snap costs them a chance for a last second winning field goal before they lose in OT.   A fumbled snap on what was a straight ahead run play is inexcusable.   Suddenly the AFC West is a 3 team race now.

Snacks:  Because of Sobeys’ lack of ingredients for a Queso Fundido (that’ll be next week), I went with pita chips early and relied on an old trustworthy (and easy) slow cooker rib recipe for supper so we wouldn’t have to take our eyes off the Steelers game (2.5 lbs of back ribs liberally salted/peppered and browned in a frying pan on all sides; then added to a slow cooker with 500ml of Coke, garlic salt, 1/3 cup of soya sauce and 1.5 cups of brown sugar for about 5 hours on low).  Put together with some fries/aioli and a delicious Steam Whistle (smuggled back from a recent trip to Toronto) and it looks a little something like this:

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